California Challenge a first in local polytechnic education; students excited at opportunities ahead
Even before a liberal arts college is set up locally, up to 30 top students will experience in a three-week stint to California next year what a liberal arts education can offer them.
These students will be selected from under 300 students currently in the Talent Development Programme (TDP), which nurtures scholars to prepare them for further studies.
Bright students choose Ngee Ann
According to the Principal, Mr Chia Mia Chiang, 4,400 students were accepted to the polytechnic through the recent Joint Admissions Exercise. .
“Polytechnic students come in with increasingly better grades, so we have to consider new options for them,” said Mr Mun Kwok On, Director of the Student Development and Alumni Relations Office, who is in charge of the TDP.
Three-week stint in California
The all-expenses-paid trip, which will occur in the middle of next year, will cost the polytechnic about $6,000 per student.
Mr Chia said the proposal made by the National University of Singapore to set up a liberal arts college inspired the initiative, which he called the Liberal Arts Challenge.
According to Mr Mun, discussions with liberal arts colleges in California are underway to plan a two-week tailor-made programme that will expose the students to an liberal arts education.
The students will also spend another week attached to non-governmental organisations to understand the underlying economic and societal issues in the United States.
What Liberal Arts is
“Contrary to what most Singaporeans think, an liberal arts education is neither liberal nor just about the arts,” said Mr Mun.
An advisory panel from the Ministry of Education explained in their report that students who receive a liberal arts education “are grounded across disciplines including mathematics and science”.
For example, a student at the top-ranked liberal arts college Carleton College in Minnesota, could major in Physics and Astronomy, and earn a concentration in Neuroscience.
Lee Ping Joyce, 18, a second-year Accountancy student said she was “very keen in participating in the Challenge”.
Likewise, Leon Tan Jun Liang, 18, a second-year Aerospace Technology student, said, “I always thought a liberal arts education referred only to the humanities, like literature or drama, but after hearing about the Liberal Arts Challenge, I was proven wrong. I will do my best to get selected for the trip.”
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